A Dummies’ Guide to Pinterest


While sites like Facebook and Twitter are pretty well-known, Pinterest might be one of those sites you’ve heard of without having a clear idea of what it does. That said, Pinterest is a unique and attractive social network for several reasons.

Compared to something like Facebook, Pinterest is fairly young: it launched in 2010 while Zuckerberg’s brainchild launched in 2004, and Twitter launched in 2006. But you’ll be spoilt for choice, regardless: a recent study by Semiocast shows Pinterest has 70 million users. Of those, over 20 million pinned, repinned or liked a pin last month (June 2013). 79% of these users are located in the US, but of all the new users that joined Pinterest last month, only 55% of these came from America, suggesting the website’s userbase is gradually widening, geographically speaking.

But who is this userbase? Unlike Facebook or Twitter, which have relatively broad userbases, Pinterest is a little narrower. A study by the Pew Research Center shows that Pinterest is used largely by women: 72% of the userbase is female. Most of the total userbase is relatively educated too, and aged between 18 and 50. The most widely shared content comes under categories such as cooking and recipes, arts and crafts, clothing, gifts and home design.

Pinterest also differs in that is is a highly visual site. Facebook and Twitter, broadly speaking, are about announcing things to the world, in a dialogue with up to hundreds of other participants. You post statuses, you talk to friends, you argue, you instant message. You post pictures too, but it’s very text-led. Twitter goes down this path as well, but it has brevity to set it apart, and economy of words it forces can be a useful and effective tool. Pinterest is all about pictures: organising pictures, finding new ones and building a collection that you can refer back to.

Pinterest can be boiled down to two key elements: pins and boards. A pin is a picture or video: these can be taken from a website or uploaded from your computer, and every pin links back to where it came from. A board is how you organise your pins: give your board a label, such as “favourite foods”, or “holiday destinations”, and you’ll know where all your media should be placed.

Naturally, you can take pins from other people’s boards. Indeed, the idea is that you see what other people have pinned to get new ideas for your own interests, and this allows ideas and products to spread very organically: according to Digitas, 70% of brand engagement on Pinterest is generated by users, rather than the people selling the brand.

So, Pinterest is advantageous if you’re trying to sell to a female demographic, to those interested in arts, crafts or home decor, or indeed anything where pictures of what you’re selling can be useful.


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